Beware immigration demagoguery

As Georgia Meloni is about to become the prettiest prime minister in Italian history, I have to admit that my interest in Italian politics as such is tepid at best.

Nice melons, Georgia

But her success raises interesting issues that are worth pondering in a broader geographical context.

Such as immigration, which is already a bugbear throughout the West, and will soon become even more so, what with so many Russians and Ukrainians getting on their bike.

In her recent speech Meloni made it clear that immigration wasn’t her be all and end all:

“Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology… no to Islamist violence, yes to secure borders, no to mass migration… no to the bureaucrats of Brussels!”

Reading that litany I found myself nodding after every comma and ellipsis. But then my innate cynicism and acquired experience kicked in. Both lead to me to believe that it’s not enough for a politician to have good ideas. He, or in this case she, should also have them for good reasons. Immigration is a case in point.

Only a rank xenophobe will insist that no immigrants should ever be admitted for any reason. For sensible people, a lot depends on what kind of immigrants – and what kind of reasons.

The US prides itself on being a nation of immigrants but, historically, every major nation is just that, to various extents. Indigenous Britishness, for example, is a mishmash of Germanic inputs (the term Anglo-Saxon is a dead giveaway), and also Celtic, Roman, Scandinavian, Scandinavian French, unalloyed French, and I’m sure I’ve left some out.

More recently we had mass influxes from the Commonwealth, né British Empire, and more recently still from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. When Britons talk about immigration, they usually mean these groups, not the Norman conquerors or French Huguenots, 50,000 of whom settled in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Neither do today’s Italians look much like Etruscans or ancient Romans. Arabic inputs are more immediately obvious, especially in the South.

Few people I know support unlimited immigration and most think the flow must be tightly controlled. There are many good reasons for this view, and also some bad ones.

Liz Truss announced the other day that our shortage of labour is so dire that we must loosen restrictions on immigration.

All those Polish plumbers have repatriated, leaving behind thousands of leaky taps. Pubs and restaurants are closing down for lack of staff. Shops are running out of assistants, many of whom couldn’t assist anyway because they didn’t understand English. Hospitals are short of both doctors and nurses, although the supply of homegrown Directors of Diversity is still strong .

In other words, our PM is making an economic case for immigration, and it’s a valid one. However, it’s not straightforward.

For immigrants swell not only payrolls but also welfare rolls – and crime statistics, let’s not forget that. Their presence in large numbers puts an extra strain on public services, which are already creaking. And even when a country adheres to strictly pragmatic quotas, things may not work out quite so well.

Germany found that out the hard way back in the 1960s, when their Economic Miracle (Wirtschaftswunder for short) was running out of manpower to sustain it. In 1961 the country struck a deal with Turkey and admitted about a million Gastarbeiteren, young men to work in coal mines and factories.

Initially their family members weren’t admitted, and the men were only supposed to stay for two years, to be replaced by another million. Neither part worked out as expected.

Now 2.5 million Turks live in Germany, and their contribution to the crime rate exceeds their relative number by a factor of four. The same imbalance exists in the groups receiving social assistance.

I don’t know what that does to the net economic effect, but in any case a society doesn’t live or die by economics alone. Economics is only one strain feeding the social and cultural pool.

A nation has to retain its cultural personality developed over centuries, not to say millennia. That personality may well be enriched and made more dynamic by foreign implants. But if these are too numerous and remain too alien, they can well turn into weeds suffocating the field.

Muslims in particular, it has to be admitted with chagrin, don’t seem to adapt to Western mores easily or, for that matter, willingly.

For example, a few years ago, two Germany footballers, both second-generation Turkish immigrants, publicly swore allegiance to “our president” Erdogan. And many Muslim children born in Britain don’t even realise it’s not an Islamic country.

Miss Truss didn’t specify which groups she saw as suited for immigration, which made me fear that she didn’t even consider any factors other than an immediate economic benefit. If so, this is yet another example of what I call totalitarian economism, assigning a paramount, almost exclusive importance to the economy. That approach to life is Marxist at base, even if it yields non-Marxist results.

I’m not proposing to solve the problem here and now. My purpose is more modest: to highlight the lines along which the issue can be discussed. However, many people draw their lines in other places.

They oppose immigration simply because they fear and dislike foreigners, especially those of off-white races. This is a natural human impulse, and few of us are totally immune to it – even among those who preach unswerving commitment to multiculturalism run riot (literally, in many cases).

People tend to be suspicious of outsiders, at least at first. If newcomers keep their heads down and try to adapt, they will eventually be accepted, after a fashion. But one wrong step, and the words “there goes the neighbourhood” begin to roll off people’s tongues with a well-oiled ease.

Such sentiments shouldn’t be demonised, certainly not for ideological reasons, but – and here we come back to Miss Meloni – neither should they be fostered for different ideological reasons.

A politician can, in fact should, make a firm stand against illegal immigration simply because it’s against the law. A strong argument can also be made against even legal immigration when it’s not kept down to a sensible level.

But moving this issue to the top of the list appeals to the less laudable parts of human nature. Thus encouraged, such sentiments can spin out of control – and all the way towards unalloyed evil.

This sort of appeal is easy because suspicion of aliens is close to the surface of mass consciousness. Also, during economic downturns especially, migrants are accused of taking ‘our jobs’ and driving down ‘our wages’. But recent history – of Italy, among other places – shows how evil the spirit thereby released from its bottle can turn out to be.

Pushing the xenophobic button has catapulted many a fascist or fascisoid demagogue to the top, and decent people ought to hear alarm bells whenever they espy such a stratagem – or indeed its opposite extreme.

After all, both ‘right-wing’ nationalism and ‘left-wing’ internationalism have caused more misery in the past 100-odd years than the combined 5,000 years of previous recorded history managed collectively.

Miss Meloni’s Brothers of Italy has its roots in Mussolini’s Republican Fascist Party, a genealogy she has been trying to downplay for electoral gain. Yet the cat tends to claw its way out of the bag, and from time to time Meloni can’t desist from screaming Mussolini’s slogan “God, fatherland and family”.

Her two coalition partners, Berlusconi and Salvini, are both champions of Russian fascism – to a point where they make a credible impression of being Putin’s agents. Meloni has tried to distance herself from that wickedness, and for all I know she may even be sincere.

But most of her party supporters are closer to Berlusconi and Salvini than to her on that subject. This means that the EU’s third largest economy will be run by fascisoid allies of the frankly fascist regime threatening the survival of the world.

Alas, the rise of similar parties throughout continental Europe shows that it’s not only the social democratic model that appears defunct, but also genuinely conservative opposition to it.

It’s that evil of two lessers that comes into play. When Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy are the only counterweight to Leftist subversion, it doesn’t really matter which end of the seesaw will eventually shoot up.

Good causes abound in Meloni’s rhetoric. Yet I for one am concerned about her bad reasons.

11 thoughts on “Beware immigration demagoguery”

  1. Immigration bad too when you have conflicts Old World style that just follow the newcomers. Turks and Kurds in Germany. Pakistani Muslim and Indian Hindu in Leicester. Trying to mix different immigrant groups together in the same spot tends to create discord.

  2. Meloni’s concerns are justified, but I’m worried by her putting the blame entirely on ‘financial speculators’. It’s not a long way from blaming them to pin-pointing the religion/ethnicity of some of the most prominent ‘speculators’, and then we’re in full-on anti-Semitism.

    1. There’s always that danger, but perhaps less of it in Italy than in some other places. Even Mussolini wasn’t especially ant-Semitic, and Italian Jews were relatively unmolested until the Germans occupied the country.

      1. Facism is a clearly much abused, overused and overworked word, as is zenophobia. It should not be confused with national socialism and its adolphian links to anti semitism.
        The virtues of family and nation and protecting them against external threats are clear and unambiguous.
        No politician, recognising the very idea would be mad and political suicide, ever stood on a platform of mass immigration. And no immigrant ever came to a country with the avowed and unambiguous intention of his presence there being for the benefit of the country he has chosen.
        In Europe we are witnessing the implementation of an unspoken agreement between the uninvited, illiterate and fecund third worlders, hence invaders and the invaded, already transforming into the helots their politicians desire, as they preside over their own national destruction.

  3. I was just watching part of her speech when I saw you had posted a new article. I like that she is against the alphabet soup of gender politics, but as Sue noted, hearing the phrase “financial speculators” caught my ears. It remains to be seen what was rhetoric and what leads to action.

  4. Over the past few years there have been several reports of vaguely fascist parties gaining ground on the Continent, conservatives tut-tut and Guardian types fantasise about heroic anti-Nazi action and then…..nothing happens. I believe that the cultural legacy of the Holocaust is sufficiently potent to kerb any mass embrace of blood and soil. At least in the higher rent parts of Europe. The most fascisoid country in Europe is currently Ukraine, but presently her darker urges are sublimated into fighting the Third Rome (which most of us can agree is the greater evil) So for the time being I think Europe is safe from homegrown fascism. I also think that if Ukraine emerges triumphant from the current conflict, she will thereafter be eyed with suspicion by the UN, the EU and NATO. Here is a European nation, killing and dying for the very notion of national sovereignty, ethnic and religious identity, in the 21st century! It could set a very dangerous precedent. How might the future veterans of this war react to the third-world immigration and other diktats that would no doubt be encouraged, nay, demanded by further Westernisation? The fact that her current President is Jewish will shield the natives from excessive slander, but not indefinitely. Belonging to that much victimised race did not prevent the media from cancelling Eric Zemmour. Mark my words, victorious Ukraine will be the next ‘clear and present danger’

    1. On what basis do you consider the Ukraine a fascisoid country? Parties that merit that description get around 2 per cent of the vote there — much lower (by an order of magnitude) than in France, Italy, Germany and many other places, emphatically including Russia. Defending one’s country from evil invaders is patriotism, not fascism. Nor does opposing the woke diktats of the EU constitute fascism, provided, as I argue today, it’s done for the right reasons. However, you may well be right in your prediction: there is something un-Brussels about Kiev (a much more beautiful city, by the way). No doubt the Starmers and Scholtzes of the this world will hate it, once the dust settles. Nor am I sure that Zelensky, for all his hero status, will keep power longer after his victory than Churchill kept it after his.

  5. Financial speculators as Forex speculators?

    Trade the lira with the intention of short selling the currency having dumped tons of the lira on the international Forex markets.

    George Soros nearly destroyed the economy of Malaysia by doing so.

  6. I don’t care if you’re worried about Meloni . Get off the fence (and your high horse) Mr Boot . The west is in an existential fight for it’s survival and nationalism or whatever you want to call it is necessary. Not one western nation should allow africans into it , period . Thomas Sowell is a unicorn . Every day viewing on youtube will convince anyone of the need for ridding us of the scourge of black violence . Here in Australia with 1% african population , the crime stats are off the charts . America is finished due to black crime , and the dem/media blackout of it . Forget Muslims , as the odd terrorist attack is expected and often thwarted , but black crime is so endemic , nonsensical , evil and excused by those in power as to render us helpless . George Floyd exhibit A . Anyone heard of Ashlee Babbit ? Cannon Hinnant ? Eliza Fletcher ? The poor indian clerk shot in the back of the head for giving the black robber what he wanted , to no avail . Hundreds upon hundreds of examples , yet we insist the lion can lay down with the lamb .

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